Get yourself into Tarra-Bulga this Weekend

Do you love getting outdoors?
o Keen on gardening.
o Reasonably fit and active.
o Available next Saturday (October 21st) and have your own transport to get to Tarra-Bulga and hate weeds.
o Then helping out with weed removal at our next Working Bee could be great for you.

Meeting Point: 9.30am at the Tarra Valley Car Park
All Tools Provided: (Finish at 12.30)
BYO. Gloves, Hat, Sturdy Shoes, Drink, Snacks

RSVP: To David on 0488 035 314 or email friendsoftarrabulga@gmail.com

or register via https://www.parkconnect.vic.gov.au/

Sycamore Maple Removal

First Working Bee for 2017

Volunteer help is needed again on the first of our hands on work days for 2017. Environmental weeds are a menace and without extra help from passionate people they can quickly degrade precious habitats. On Saturday March 18th we will be continuing our ongoing efforts to keep Tutsan, Sycamore Maple, Blackberries and Ivy under control at a vulnerable site in the picturesque Tarra Valley.

No experience or prior knowledge necessary (help with weed id provided).

Meet at the Tarra Valley Picnic Area Car Park at 9.30am (finish at 12.30pm)

Tools provided (but you might like to bring along your own gloves.

For further details or to let us know you intend to come along contact us at friendsoftarrabulga@gmail.com or phone David on 0488 035 314.

 

Cyathea australis - Rough tree-fern
Cyathea australis – Rough tree-fern, the broken of scaly frond bases (Stipes) on the upper part of the trunk of these ferns are a quick aid to their identification.

 

Tutsan under sustained attack

A small crew turn out for yesterdays working bee with the aim being to continue work on tutsan at a site in the Tarra Valley that had been sprayed by contractors in March. Having been several months since we had viewed the site we ventured in with nervous anticipation. The possible scenario being anything from complete success with the spray having knocking each tutsan plant stone dead or the other alternative where the spraying was ineffective and the tutsan was thicker than ever.

After the climb up to the site the initial news was good with the remains of dark brown and dead tutsan clearly visible. We set to work in a methodical fashion and soon found plenty of living plants to deal with, mostly on the outer edges of the infestation, some that had been sprayed and not completely killed and others that had been missed. We found few (if any) newly germinated plants from seed, but there is bound to be a massive seed bank present which you can guarantee will get sprouting at some stage.

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As we walked further into the site, cutting and pasting living tutsan as we went, we found further evidence that tutsan that had been growing out in the open was completely dead and areas that had been thick with tutsan had now opened up. Pioneer species such as white elderberry (Sambucus gaudichaudiana) were popping up in the bare ground now exposed. The plants that were not out in the open are harder and intermingled with native species are harder to deal with and a number of large unsprayed patches further up the slope were discovered. They were too big for our small crew to tackle in one session and where mapped for us to tackle another day. One open slope area that had been sprayed had a fair proportion of plants still alive and reshooting, so a far bit of time was required to retreat them with poison. Although it was easy to lose count we treated at least 300 living tutsan plants in around 3 hours. We also worked on the odd bit of blackberry as well as approximately 20 sycamore maple which was the original weed we targeted on this site, we were originally pulling out maple seedlings by the hundreds. Overall the spraying made possible by a Communities For Nature Grant has been very successful but as anticipated we will need to do follow up work at this site over a number of years to promote the regeneration of native species and prevent the Tutsan coming back.

Working Bee (Tutsan and Sycamore Maple) – Saturday March 21st.

 Our first group activity for the year will be held at a site in the park along Tarra Valley Rd that we have been working on for nearly a decade now. Initially we started tackling a serious infestation of Sycamore Maple, which is a tree that can be very invasive, it has light papery seeds that disperse in the wind, it can grow in shade and then potentially become a large tree. Over the years we have pulled out hundreds of new seedlings that have spread into the park and cut out and killed many larger saplings.

Photo of Tutsan
Tutsan with some fruit ready to spread more seed into the park.

We have now been successful at getting the Maple fairly well controlled and we have now also started on another weed (Tutsan) that is established at the site. Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum) is a perennial shrub that grows to about 1.5m tall, it is related to St John’s Wort and is noted as being a serious threat to damp and wet schlerophyll forests. We have received a Communities for Nature grant to assist our efforts that will be used to fund contractors to spray the larger infestations as well as to purchase some hand tools and chemical to support our efforts.

We will be holding a working bee at the site on Saturday March the 21st. The meeting point will be at the Tarra Valley Car Park at 9.30am. Like many of our working bees’ the terrain will be steep and lots of scrambling through undergrowth will be required. Tools will be available but if you have your own favourite gloves or loppers please bring them along. Following the work we will have a free BBQ lunch provided down at the Fernholme Caravan Park (at around 1pm). If you are able to come along please call or email David Akers (0488 035 314) or friendsoftarrabulga@gmail.com preferably by March the 18th so we know how much food to buy.

Sycamore Maple Pull Site 2013 and Tutsan Rust

Last Saturday we held a working bee, weeding at a site (which we do annually) where an invasion of Sycamore Maple seedlings entered the Park from a surrounding property. Initially we were pulling out hundreds of new seedling and now the ongoing effort to remove newly detected seedlings is working well. Like last year there was not a lot of Maple to remove and a lot of the time was spent moving through the site to ensure that the area was clean of weeds, (although we did not get cross to the other side of the gully where there are some more Maples growing). The main area where Maple was found was an open disturbed area that also has a very bad Tutsan infestation.

It was interesting to discover that much of the Tustsan in the area was covered by rust with some foliage looking quite heavily impacted. We didn’t notice the rust last year but when I looked back at some photos I took then, I did see that some Tutsan leaves had tell tale rust spots present. Tutsan Rust (Melampsora hypericorum) is a fungus that was found to be very successful in the Otway Ranges in the 1990’s where it had a significant impact on reducing the cover of this shade tolerant invasive weed.

Our site (or somewhere in a close vicinity) had Tutsan Rust artificially introduced a couple of years back and after some follow up inspections It was thought that it had not taken. After a bit of research I found a document that suggested that Tutsan Rust was already present at Tarra Bulga, A report from 1999 describes rust taken from Tarra Bulga (as well as some from the Morwell River area) being used as part of research project. The Tarra Bulga rust was found to impact the plants in the trial to an intermediate level (i.e. OK but not great). Whether or not the rust is from the attempted introduction a couple of years ago (of which I assume was a more virulent strain) or whether it is the same rust that has been around for longer, can probably not be known without complex Laboratory analysis. But we will continue to monitor the site with interest given the threat that Tutsan presents to the park.

As well as the Maple and Tutsan there were new Blackberry seedlings that we carefully hand pulled as well as a few new outbreaks of English Ivy which we need to remain vigilant for. There were some larger clumps of Blackberry that will need to be sprayed.

Reference: Casonato, S, Lawrie, A. and McLaren, D. Biological control of Hypercium androsaemum with Melampsora hypercorum  In ’12th Australian Weeds Conference’. Hobart, Tasmania. (Eds AC Bishop, M Boersma, CD Barnes) pp. 339-342. (CAWSS).

Pretty But Noxious

When cyclists from the Great Victorian Bike Ride “ascend” on Tarra Bulga next week they will notice along with the many native plants in flower some attractive looking flowering plants that are in fact not so desirable. One of the most obvious they will see is Creeping Buttercup – (Ranunculus repens). Although there are native Buttercup species this one comes from the Northern hemisphere. As can be seen by the sea of yellow along the roadsides at this time of the year, it has been well established for a long time and has also penetrate to some moist areas deeper in the park resulting in the displacement of native species.

Ranunculus repens - Creeping Buttercup
Ranunculus repens – Creeping Buttercup – In flower now common along the edge of roadsides.
Ranunculus repens - Creeping Buttercup
Ranunculus repens – Creeping Buttercup – close up of its leaves

Another weed that is threatening to take over and become more of a pest is Myosotis sylvatica or  Wood forget-me-not. There are also native relatives of this plant in existence, but this species is native to Europe and has been introduced to Tarra Bulga from garden escapes. It is popping up all over the roadsides and is threatening to penetrate deeper into the park. Park staff and volunteers are vigilant in trying to remove seedlings whenever they are encountered but the task seems to be getting more difficult.

Myosotis sylvatica - Wood-forget-me-not
Myosotis sylvatica – Wood-forget-me-not – pretty flowers but a threat to the park.

Annual Maple Pull

Acer pseudoplatanus - Sycamore Maple - ringbarkedOn Saturday March the 31st the friends held their annual Sycamore Maple pull. It was very encouraging to see that although there were still quite a number of large seedlings (up to 2.5m tall) and a bit of re-sprouting from previous weeding efforts. There was only a handful of new seedling sprouting (despite the wet seasons we have had) compared to the hundreds that we were pulling out when we first started working on this site back in 2006.

The source of the infestation was from some large established trees planted on the other side of the Tarra Valley Road. The large trees for many years had blown their light papery seeds into the surrounding native forest. Thanks to our efforts in starting the work in the park and with co-operation with the WGCMA and Parks Victoria, work was done to remove these large established trees, The photo above shows a large tree maple that was ringbarked and poisoned. Now all that should be required to stop the maple from spreading into the the magnificent forests of Tarra Bulga is a quick bit of regular follow up to eliminate any seedlings that pop up from viable seed still stored in the soil or regrowth of plants that we have already pulled out.

Sycamore Maple Removal

Sycamore Maple Removal

Fortunately we did not find to many plants that had re-grown but it was apparent that the ones that did resprout were generally not cut off very close to the ground. So the lesson learnt “cutting the stems as close to the ground as possible is vital”.

Sycamore Maple reshooting from stump
Sycamore Maple reshooting from stump

While we have had some great success with the maples here we have some more significant tasks ahead. This includes efforts to re-habilitate the site (only recently discovered) of a huge infestation of around 2ha of established maples in the park. In this area of the park there are also large infestations of Tutsan and Blackberries that are of great concern.